Republican or Democrat — we’re all the same color when you turn off the lights (after all, elephants and donkeys ain’t nothin’ but mammals, right?) And, when it comes to politics, you couldn’t get a brighter shade of purple than Colorado. (Is that why the Rockies don their violet hues? I kid.) But seriously, with the culmination of “debate season” and the impending arrival of Election Day, media outlets and the presidential candidates have narrowed their focus to the battleground lands, including our very own Centennial State. Call it undecided, call it unaffiliated, even call it ambivalent… but, Coloradans may play a crucial role in deciding our next president.

In light of our important role, I, the 303 Health & Sports editordeemed it relevant to compare the candidates’ stances on health care. Sure, not everyone’s vote hangs in the balances of health care reform; indeed, “the economy” seems to be manning the steering wheel of this election. But, for the sake of brevity, clarity, and relevance — I’ve created a table detailing where the candidates stand on your health.

*Disclaimer: To avoid indicating a partisanship, all data are taken directly from each candidates’ official websites and presented nearly verbatim. No additional data were added and those words which were excluded did not effect the content of each candidates message, but merely were removed for brevity’s sake. Even the order in which the data is presented is based merely on a standardized system for ordering items — B & O come before M & R in the alphabet.

**Do not attempt to guess my political affiliation, you will fail. I am registered with the State of Colorado as unaffiliated and have a red and blue voting record. If you try to suggest my leanings, I will purposefully “like” the alternative candidate and/or donate to an obscure third party, if only to prove you wrong.

***For the most comprehensive information, please visit each candidates’ respective website. (Both will ask you for money).

Finally, whether you lean blue or red, the most important thing is that you utilize the very right bestowed upon you by our government – GO VOTE!

Barack Obama
John Biden

 

Mitt Romney
Paul Ryan

The Affordable Care Act

On March 23, 2010, President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act into law, putting in place comprehensive reforms that improve access to affordable health coverage for everyone and protect consumers from abusive insurance company practices. The law allows all Americans to make health insurance choices that work for them while guaranteeing access to care for our most vulnerable, and provides new ways to bring down costs and improve quality of care. 

 Ending Insurance Company Abuses

In the past, insurance companies could take advantage of you. They could deny coverage to children who had asthma or were born with a heart defect, put a lifetime cap on the amount of care they would pay for, or cancel your coverage when you got sick just by finding an accidental mistake in your paperwork. The Affordable Care Act creates a new Patient’s Bill of Rights that protects you from these and other abusive practices.

Key Points: 

  • Insurance companies can no longer deny coverage to children because of a pre-existing condition
  • Insurers can no longer impose lifetime dollar limits on essential health benefits and annual limits are being phased out by 2014
  • Insurance companies can no longer drop your coverage when you get sick due to a mistake you made on your application.
  • Creates a new Patient’s Bill of Rights that protects you from these and other abusive practices.

 Better Access to Care

The health care law builds on what works in our health care system. And it fixes what’s broken by providing you with more health insurance choices and better access to care.

Key Points: 

  • Insurers are now required to cover a number of recommended preventive services without additional cost sharing
  • Most young adults who can’t get coverage through their jobs can stay on their parents’ plans until age 26
  • The Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan makes health coverage available and more affordable for individuals who have been denied because of a pre-existing condition
More Affordable Coverage
The law helps you by bringing down health care costs and making sure your health care dollars are spent wisely. The new law will help lower costs through new tax credits and new marketplaces where insurers will have to compete for your business.
Key Points: 
  • Affordable Insurance Exchanges are one-stop marketplaces where consumers can choose a private health insurance plan that fits their health needs
  • If insurance companies don’t spend at least 80% of your premium on medical care and quality improvements, they will have to provide you a rebate
  • Insurance companies are required to publicly justify their actions if they want to raise rates by 10 percent or more.
  • Small business tax credits
Medicare 
  • The life of the Medicare Trust Fund will be extended to at least 2024 as a result of reducing waste, fraud, and abuse, and slowing cost growth in Medicare
  • Seniors will see additional savings on covered brand-name and generic drugs while in the coverage gap until the gap is closed in 2020
  • Seniors can receive recommended preventive services such as flu shots, diabetes screenings, as well as a new Annual Wellness Visit, free of charge
  • The health care law helps stop fraud with tougher screening procedures, stronger penalties, and new technology
  • Through the newly established Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation, this Administration is testing and supporting innovative new health care models that can reduce costs and strengthen the quality of health care. . So far, it has introduced 16 initiatives involving over 50,000 health care providers that will touch the lives of Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries in all 50 states
  • The number of seniors who joined Medicare Advantage plans increased by 17 percent between 2010 and 2012 while the premiums for such plans dropped by 16 percent
                                   Women
  • Many insurance plans are beginning to fully cover birth control without co-pays or deductibles as part of women’s preventive care
  • President Obama fought back against Republican attempts to defund Planned Parenthood


Repeal & Replace Obamacare

On his first day in office, Mitt Romney will issue an executive order that paves the way for the federal government to issue Obamacare waivers to all fifty states. He will then work with Congress to repeal the full legislation as quickly as possible.

In place of Obamacare, Mitt will pursue policies that give each state the power to craft a health care reform plan that is best for its own citizens. The federal government’s role will be to help markets work by creating a level playing field for competition.

Restore State Leadership & Flexibility 

Mitt will begin by returning states to their proper place in charge of regulating local insurance markets and caring for the poor, uninsured, and chronically ill. States will have both the incentive and the flexibility to experiment, learn from one another, and craft the approaches best suited to their own citizens. The federal government’s role will be to help markets work by creating a level playing field for competition.

Key Points:

  • Block grant Medicaid and other payments to states
  • Limit federal standards and requirements on both private insurance and Medicaid coverage
  • Ensure flexibility to help the uninsured, including public-private partnerships, exchanges, and subsidies
  • Ensure flexibility to help the chronically ill, including high-risk pools, reinsurance, and risk adjustment
  • Offer innovation grants to explore non-litigation alternatives to dispute resolution

Promote Free Markets, Fair Competition & Consumer Choice

Competition drives improvements in efficiency and effectiveness, offering consumers higher quality goods and services at lower cost.  It can have the same effect in the health care system, if given the chance to work.

Key Points:

  • Cap non-economic damages in medical malpractice lawsuits
  • Empower individuals and small businesses to form purchasing pools
  • Prevent discrimination against individuals with pre-existing conditions who maintain continuous coverage
  • Facilitate IT interoperability

Empower Consumer Choice

For markets to work, consumers must have the information and the power to make decisions about their own care.  Placing the patient at the center of the process will drive quality up and cost down while ensuring that services are designed to provide what Americans actually want.

Key Points:

  • End tax discrimination against the individual purchase of insurance
  • Allow consumers to purchase insurance across state lines
  • Unshackle HSAs by allowing funds to be used for insurance premiums
  • Promote “co-insurance” products
  • Promote alternatives to “fee for service”
  • Encourage “Consumer Reports”-type ratings of alternative insurance plans

Medicare 

  • Nothing changes for current seniors or those nearing retirement
  • Medicare is reformed as a premium support system, meaning that existing spending is repackaged as a fixed-amount benefit to each senior that he or she can use to purchase an insurance plan
  • All insurance plans must offer coverage at least comparable to what Medicare provides today
  • If seniors choose more expensive plans, they will have to pay the difference between the support amount and the premium price; if they choose less expensive plans, they can use any leftover support to pay other medical expenses like co-pays and deductibles
  • “Traditional” fee-for-service“ Medicare will be offered by the government as an insurance plan, meaning that seniors can purchase that form of coverage if they prefer it; however, if it costs the government more to provide that service than it costs private plans to offer their versions, then the premiums charged by the government will have to be higher and seniors will have to pay the difference to enroll in the traditional Medicare option
  • Lower income seniors will receive more generous support to ensure that they can afford coverage; wealthier seniors will receive less support
  • Competition among plans to provide high quality service while charging low premiums will hold costs down while also improving the quality of coverage enjoyed by seniors

Kaelyn is the 303 Health & Sports desk editor. She is an avid Colorado sports fan, a reckless ski bunny, and a yogi-lovin’ Denver enthusiast.

Leave a Reply